My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante, Europa Editions, 2012, 331 pp
Now I have read the book that so many readers I respect and relate to loved. I loved it as well.
There is a magic between childhood friends, no matter the time period or locale. Elena Ferrante captures that magic and its combination of black magic and good. In the early chapters she makes the terrors, the sorrows, the worries between two young girls so real and true. I had those myself as a girl, even to the point of being made sick by them. At the same time, it was some kind of point of honor not to admit how bad those feelings were and a duty to rise above them. So it is with Elena and Lila.
Those two girls lived in postwar Naples, Italy. I grew up in postwar American suburbia, Princeton, NJ, to be exact and my circumstances were much more tame. Somehow these differences don't matter because it is the friendship and connection of growing up together, the changes that affect each girl and alter the relationship, that spoke to me and gave the story its emotional heft.
Anything else I could say would just be gushing. As Alice Sebold's blurb on the front cover says, "Elena Ferrante will blow you away."
Better yet, the third novel in this trilogy about female friendship, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, is on the short list for this year's Tournament of Books, so I have an additional reason to go ahead and binge read the next two volumes!
(My Brilliant Friend is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)